Return to Transcripts main page

Connect the World

Thousands Flee Nagorno-Karabakh; Ukraine Asks U.S. for Long-Range Missiles; Aid Flowing to Armenia from U.S. and E.U.; U.S. Senator Accused of Bribery Remains Defiant; Iranian Protester Loses Eye but Has No Regrets. Aired 10-11a ET

Aired September 26, 2023 - 10:00   ET




ANNOUNCER: Live from CNN Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD with Becky Anderson.

BECKY ANDERSON, CNN HOST (voice-over): This hour, close to 20,000 ethnic Armenians have fled the tiny enclave of Nagorno-Karabakh in just a matter

of days; the majority of them, women, children and the elderly.

I'm going to speak to the first humanitarian organization that has managed to get aid into the territory and who is helping those fearing for their

lives evacuate out. That is coming up.

Also this hour, the Kremlin is not commenting on the alleged Ukrainian assassination of Russia's Black Sea fleet commander. But the ministry of

defense has published this video, appearing to show Viktor Sokolov participating in a meeting on Tuesday.

The surge of migrants at the U.S.-Mexico border leaves Texas towns scrambling with more asylum seekers sleeping on the streets. The U.S.

immigration court currently has a backlog of more than 2.5 million cases.

U.S. lawmakers get back to work today after a long weekend, pondering whether the rest of the federal government should keep on working if

Congress fails to pass new spending measures. The government will shut down on Saturday.


ANDERSON: Contradictory information from the Kremlin in Kyiv today over the fate of a top Russian admiral. On Monday, Ukraine said it killed the

commander of Russia's Black Sea fleet.


ANDERSON (voice-over): But take a look at this video. The Russian ministry of defense released it just a short time ago. It does appear to show

Admiral Sokolov appearing via video conference in a meeting with Russian military leaders.

Ukraine now says it is, quote, "clarifying" its information. More of this hours after Russian drones bore down on Ukraine's Odessa region overnight.


ANDERSON: CNN's Sam Kiley has broken down the significance of that attack at the center of all the claims around Admiral Sokolov, as well as one of

Russia's attacks on Ukraine's Odessa region that followed it.


SAM KILEY, CNN SENIOR INTERNATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Ukraine dismissed this as a pathetic attempt at retaliation. A Russian bombardment

of the port city of Odessa, with drones and long-range missiles.

Two warehouse workers were killed and abandoned hotels smashed in what could have been an almost routine attack by Russia but for this. Kyiv now

claims to have killed the commander of Russia's Black Sea Fleet, admiral Viktor Sokolov.

Ukraine says it also killed another 33 Russian officers in a missile strike against the fleet headquarters in Sevastopol on Friday.

The Ukrainians have targeted senior Russian officers throughout this war, often using intelligence from NATO and specialist units have been tasked by

Kyiv with these killings. They're aimed at sapping morale and undermining command systems.

CNN has no independent confirmation of Ukraine's claim to have killed Russia's admiral but it would be its biggest success in this campaign and

part of an ongoing campaign to break through Russia's defense lines to ultimately strike at Crimea.

They've included early attacks on Putin's navy and a bridge to Russia itself. The first batch of U.S. donated Abrams tanks have also arrived in

Ukraine. But they're not the strategic weapons the Ukrainians say they need.

VOLODYMYR ZELENSKYY, UKRAINIAN PRESIDENT (through translator): The defense packages from the United States, including artillery, necessary shells,

high marked munitions, air defense missiles, additional air defense systems, tactical vehicles and some other types of weapons that will prove

themselves on the battlefield.

KILEY (voice-over): Kyiv wants these ATACMS, long-range missile systems, to attack deep behind Russian lines, to kill more officers and destroy

logistics hubs. The U.S. is yet to announce that Ukraine will get these missiles before the winter freezes over the front lines where they are -- Sam Kiley, CNN.



ANDERSON: We are seeing unprecedented migration surge at the U.S. southern border. But it is not just there; the surge also overwhelming Mexico's

border with Guatemala. CNN's David Culver is there with a look at the migrant influx, which is headed north.


DAVID CULVER, CNN CORRESPONDENT: To get a better sense of the migrant crisis impacting the U.S., we wanted to come to the border, not the border

you might be thinking of. Rather, we're at Mexico's southern border with Guatemala.

That is Guatemala over there. And that, if you look here, are folks crossing. They are waving at us. Migrants who have made the journey from

various countries.

We have met folks from Haiti, from Cuba, from Honduras. Ultimately, though, many of them tell us, if not all, they want to go north.

By the way, that's the official crossing, that bridge, not many people using that. Instead, they come to this side, to the Mexico side and this is

into a city that is called Ciudad Hidalgo. And they set up little encampments.

You can see here, you've got folks with tents set up. They've got clothes hanging. They're cooking food. You see a lot of families, a lot of young

children in particular.

And the plan for many of them Is to be here in Ciudad Hidalgo, until they can find a way usually by bus or by car, to get to Tapachula, which is the

largest city in this area, the state of Chiapas in southern Mexico.

And many of them plan then to go meet with officials. And they hope to then claim asylum here in Mexico or at the very least, try to get transit

documents. And that buys them time to stay in Mexico as they plan their way into the U.S.

Most of them will tell you and they told me this directly, they want to enter the U.S. legally. But what you have noticed here and we have seen

this in the past several months here in Mexico in particular, is the influx and the surge is a real strain on the resources for Mexican cities.

And you notice that as you see a lot of these folks are really trying on their own, figure out how to find food, how to find clothes. And they are

filling up cities like Tapachula, 15,000 to 17,000 right now -- that's the number of migrants alone in Tapachula. Huge numbers that plan to wait and


And so, essentially, if you look at the U.S. border as a river, you have cut it off in one part. At least, that is the intention from U.S. border

officials. Well upstream, it is still flowing and it's flowing rapidly.

And this is the impact. It's coming on over the banks. You've got migrants here who ultimately, yes, want to go to the U.S. But frankly, most of them

don't know how or where they will end up. It really has become a humanitarian crisis and most everyone you speak with here acknowledges that -- David Culver, CNN, Ciudad Hidalgo, Mexico.


ANDERSON: No one wants to stay behind, nobody. But it is seemingly impossible to leave. That is what one Nagorno-Karabakh resident is telling

CNN today about the plight of ethnic Armenians in the breakaway region just days after Azerbaijan's lightning offensive upended their lives.

The mother of twins told us their car was stuck on the road for seven hours today. They had to go back and spend the night at home without water. They

will try to leave again tomorrow; 19,000 others, about one in six of all ethnic Armenians in Nagorno-Karabakh, have made it into Armenia.

The USAID chief is there today to say that the region is an urgent need of international help. Take a listen.


SAMANTHA POWER, U.S. AGENCY FOR INTERNATIONAL DEVELOPMENT: It is absolutely critical that independent monitors, as well as humanitarian organizations,

get access to the people in Nagorno-Karabakh, who still have dire needs.


ANDERSON: But one woman whose family remains stuck in Nagorno-Karabakh says she is hearing harrowing accounts about missing loved ones after an

explosion at a fuel depot.

At least 20 people are dead, hundreds more are injured. Helicopters carried the injured into Armenia. The cause of the blast still remains under

investigation. It is not believed to be a terrorist act.

My next guest, Zara Amatuni, is the International Committee of the Red Cross' spokesperson in Armenia. She joins us from Goris, where you just saw

video of refugees arriving.

It is good to have you. Thank, you and before we talk about the situation on the ground, echoing Samantha Power's alarm, the ICRC released a

statement yesterday saying, and I quote, "Under international humanitarian law, sides must allow and facilitate the rapid unimpeded passage of

humanitarian relief for civilians in need."


ANDERSON: This includes medical supplies and essential food. So it is a very basic first question to. You

Is the ICRC getting the access it needs at this point?


The International Committee of the Red Cross is finally present across the region, with its offices basically working in coordination between each

other and also through the bilateral interaction with the respective decision-makers to be able to keep the presence in favor basically of being

able to carry on its humanitarian work.

In the time being, actually, we were able last week to deliver much-needed humanitarian supplies for -- to give an opportunity to arrange local bread

baking. So I'm talking about something around 70 metric tons of wheat flour, as well as sunflower oil, dry yeast and salt.

However, we definitely understand that, at the humanitarian scale of the impact of the recent hostilities, it's pretty much wide and mitigation of

the needs of the people is probably -- it's definitely not enough, coupled with all the --


AMATUNI: -- people are experiencing these days. So we are --


ANDERSON: Let's talk about what you understand to be going on on the ground.

I do have to ask again, are you getting the access that you need?

I mean, we just heard from Samantha Power's urging access for those who are on the ground with humanitarian efforts, are you getting the access that

you need into Nagorno-Karabakh at this point?

AMATUNI: We are getting the access. Actually, mainly we are maybe focusing now on the -- helping -- facilitating the transfer of critically injured

patients, which is basically our focus for the current time, especially in relation with the recent explosion of the fuel depot.

However, we are also discussing with decision-makers on the size (ph) the opportunity to beef up these evacuations.

Also given the fact that heavy traffic makes it -- is extremely difficult for us to pass across (INAUDIBLE) route (ph). At the same time, we are also

looking into other opportunities that can be considered for us to really ensure that we can pass smoothly.

This may include also other routes that can be secured and guaranteed by the decision makers for us to be able to reach --



AMATUNI: -- the people in need. For now, that includes maybe the transfer of the injured.

ANDERSON: That Lachin Corridor is absolutely crucial, isn't it. You say are exploring other opportunities but ultimately, that is the access in and

out. You say -- and we've got images of trucks backed up on the Lachin Corridor.

Are the Azerbaijani military cooperating with the ICRC at this point?

AMATUNI: I just want to stress that any operation that the ICRC is able to implement is days and also before that have been the result of the

agreement that we reached with all the decision-makers.

So basically we did not -- we are getting the absolute OK and green light. That is also a guarantee for us to be able to deliver our work smoothly as

much as is possible. So definitely, we are talking to all the decision- makers that are involved in this current situation.

ANDERSON: The ICRC, of course, was the first NGO to provide - or organization to send in a humanitarian convoy since this cease-fire was

signed. Just describe the situation on the ground for us, if you will.

And also are you the only organization operating on the ground at this point?

Do you know that?

AMATUNI: We can confirm that definitely, for now and for already some time, we've been the only organization (INAUDIBLE) effectively present on the

ground across the region, which actually also is due to our specific role as a neutral intermediary, that we can play essentially by being present

and being able to access the decision-makers bilaterally, among others.

So these days and also before that, our organization has enjoyed this presence. And that helped us to really allow for humanitarian work to be

done across the region, to reach to the people in need. So as related to our operations and the needs that we are seeing currently --


AMATUNI: -- we definitely are -- we can confirm that these needs are really based and they actually range from the scarcity of basic items such as

food, hygiene supplies and, very importantly, medical supplies to the issues related to people that are -- to the -- to these related to the

missing, for example, cases that people are actually lose contact of their relatives.

Or they may leave behind some elderly or other people that actually they were forced to leave, while having decided to flee and come to Armenia.

So that also is very much the focus of our attention here. So our teams on the ground in Armenia are also trying to assess the -- these cases and

somehow summarize and understand how to proceed actually in the scope of our mandate, which also provides for looking into these cases.

ANDERSON: Let's talk about what's going on in Armenia then. As we understand it, nearly 20 percent of the ethnic Armenian population in

Nagorno-Karabakh has already made its way, difficult as it has been, into Armenia.

Do you expect those numbers to escalate at this point?

AMATUNI: We are closely monitoring the situation. We are in contact with the relevant institutions that are mainly the local authorities but also

our partner there, meaning The Red Cross Society, which is currently working hand in hand with the local authorities to register the incoming


We are not involved (INAUDIBLE) directly in the evacuations. So basically, we are mostly relying on the (INAUDIBLE) of the information being provided

by the state authorities. And what is important here to note is that we are actually beefing up our presence, looking up these needs and expecting that these needs will grow as the numbers of the people are coming is growing as


We are -- already have beefed up our presence, bringing specialists in a range of actually specializations such as health (ph), forensics,

protection issues and weapon contamination.

ANDERSON: Right. There are reports suggesting that ethnic Armenians feel deserted by what they would consider to be traditional allies and the West.

Are you coordinating with other organizations on the ground at present?

You say you are in the organization on the ground in Nagorno-Karabakh at this point.

Do you expect coordination efforts to be ramped up with other countries and organizations at this point?

To Samantha Power's point, more help is needed on the ground -- and fast.

AMATUNI: Well, definitely, we keep the dialogue open and running, actually, with the international community in this respect and providing our reading

in terms of humanitarian needs and how they can be addressed as well as what could be the coordinating, let's say, the role of actually to really

address the needs most appropriately, on one hand.

On another, we are also in close contact with the relevant state institutions that are also present here on the, ground but also the central

authorities that are coordinating and leading on the prognosis (ph) of current humanitarian needs of the associated related t the influx of the people.

As related to the ongoing effort, I will also mention again here, the Red Cross/Red Crescent family, represented on the ground by the Armenian Red

Cross Society, that is actively in the urgent response, also working on the grounds, receiving people, assessing their needs, registering them as well

as our colleagues at the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent that is also here to --


ANDERSON: -- team up in terms of, let's, say bolstering the humanitarian response related to the current situation.

ANDERSON: Right. Well, the needs are huge. Good luck with the work as you get on with it. Thank you.

Russia's foreign ministry said a statement by Armenia's prime minister, attempting to shift blame to Russia for what happened in Nagorno-Karabakh

is, and I quote, "unacceptable." Russia has long been considered a protector of Armenian interests.


ANDERSON: But Armenia's leaders have criticized the Russian peacekeeping force in the region, which brokered a cease-fire but apparently did not

intervene in Azerbaijan's offensive to take control of the area last week.

And you can follow the story online. That mother of twins who we reported on about a few minutes ago has a lot more to say about what her family and

many, many others have been through and are now enduring. That's at on your computer or through the CNN app on your smartphone.

Days from now, we will know if the U.S. government can pay its bills, avoiding a costly shutdown for most Americans, that is coming up.

And we will speak to a journalist who helped to expose an alleged bribery scheme and indict a U.S. senator.




ANDERSON: The U.S. could soon be looking at a government shutdown. Five days from now, Congress still has not been able to come up with a plan and

the sense of both chambers is that federal funding will expire at the end of the week.

House leader Kevin McCarthy does not have enough Republican votes to pass a stopgap bill to provide short term funding. A shutdown would have major

impacts that would be felt across the country.

If that would happen, many government operations would come to a halt while only services deemed essential would continue. More on that, of course, as

we get it.

Another important moment in U.S. politics this week, U.S. Senate Democrat Bob Menendez remaining defiant against charges that he took bribes and sold

his influence on the Hill.

He insists he will be exonerated, even though some of his colleagues, his Democratic colleagues, are losing faith. The beneficiary of those bribes

allegedly was the Egyptian government and a handful of business men. Egyptian journalist Lina Attalah joins me now.

And you and your colleagues were behind this investigation. This is an unsealed indictment, just in the past couple of days. But this was an

investigation that came to light some months ago. Just take us through that process.

What did you seemingly uncover?

And again, I have to say that these are just allegations at present. Bob Menendez absolutely refutes them. But just take me through the process of

this investigation and what it reveals.


It all started back in 2019, when our food and agriculture reporter, an award-winning journalist, Nada Arafat, alongside her editor, Mohamed Mahema

(ph), noticed a steep price -- steep price rise in imported meat in Egypt.


ATTALAH: Egypt imports a great percentage of its meats from abroad, specifically from the U.S. and North America. So trying to follow the

thread of the reason behind this rise in prices, they figured that it is because of a steep price in halal certification that meat suppliers in the U.S. should get before supplying Egyptian traders (ph) with the meat.

Now the story goes back to a company that was licensed to issue the certifications by the Egyptian government after disqualifying all other

certifiers operating in the U.S. back in 2019.

So the moment this company, which is EGIS, a company which is based in New Jersey, got this monopoly over the issuance of halal certification, it

immediately raised the fees for certification.

So for example (INAUDIBLE) that used to cost $200 now costs $5,000 to get the certification. Now the ICG, which had nothing to do with meat

certification before it was set up in 2017 with unknown activities, only started to invest in halal certification in 2019 after getting the

licensing from the Egyptian government.

And after taking a monopoly over the market, has what (INAUDIBLE) decided, as its core founder, (INAUDIBLE), (INAUDIBLE) he is one of the business men

who are indicted alongside Senator Menendez --



ATTALAH: -- and has been sourcing the senator with much of the bribery that he is being indicted for, presumably.


ANDERSON: The allegations -- yes. The allegations, of course, suggesting that this veteran U.S. senator, the chairman of the Foreign Relations

Committee, used his leadership position and power to unduly provide influence for these characters who are alleged in this indictment to have

done wrong.

How has this investigation played out in Egypt?

What has been the impact?

ATTALAH: So because of the major restrictions that we have on what gets discussed publicly in the media, we are pretty much one of very few media

circling back to the investigation and reporting about the indictment of Senator Menendez.

So, in a way, there is a concerted attempt to basically put a blackout on the story, to not give it any attention. There has been complete silence

obviously from the Egyptian authorities but also from most of the media, which are connected in one way or another with the authorities about the


So there is not a formal -- there is a debate, informal outlooks about what is happening but, of course, everybody is talking about it. Everybody is

reading 40 pages indictment form; everybody is wondering who amongst the Egyptian authorities is involved in this case. So it is making the rounds.

It is occupying the public attention.

ANDERSON: As a result, of course, of your findings, Senator Menendez has gotten indicted. Now you have organizations pressing lawmakers to withhold

military aid to Egypt in light of these revelations and accusations around Egyptian interference.

Do you believe that is likely to happen?

ATTALAH: U.S.-Egyptian relations, specifically as marked by the military aid, the military financing that Egypt gets, is a deep historic tie,

transcends military needs from the Egyptian side.

If anything, this financial support has acted as also a political gesture of more or less alignment, despite some distances that have been taking

place between the two governments in the last years.


ATTALAH: So it is hard to imagine that this major political gesture, that is also a stamp of stability, let's say, that has been crafted in the

political side of the two countries plus the peace agreement with Israel.

So it is very hard to imagine that this would be unsettled. That being said, there is hope that there is an awakening in what happened toward

human rights conditionality that comes with financing and how this should really be taken seriously, at least.

ANDERSON: Lina, good to have you. Thank you very much indeed.

We are going to take a very short break. Coming up after that break --


ELAHE TAVAKOLIAN, IRANIAN PROTESTER (through translator): They shot my eye and they shot others. But the struggle is going on. No matter how many they

kill, they cannot stop the spring from coming.

ANDERSON (voice-over): She lost an eye but is still willing to protest. A CNN report from what is an extraordinary woman.





ANDERSON: Here in Abu Dhabi, this is CONNECT THE WORLD from our Middle East broadcasting hub. I'm Becky Anderson for you. Wherever you are watching,

you are more than welcome.

The U.S. State Department has refused a request from the Iranian foreign minister. He was asking to visit Iranian interests in Washington after

traveling to New York for the recent U.N. General Assembly.

Washington says the refusal was based on what it calls Iran's wrongful detention record and being a state sponsor of terrorism.

It has been just over a year since protests erupted after Iran -- in Iran after the death of Mahsa Amini, the young woman who died in the custody of

Iran's notorious morality police.

That sparked protests across the country, with hundreds of Iranians sustaining severe injuries from the security forces' brutal crackdown.

Elahe Tavakolian is one of hundreds of demonstrators who've sustained severe eye injuries.


ANDERSON: She has spoken to my colleague, Jomana Karadsheh in Italy, where she is trying to lead a normal life, despite the trauma and having to leave

her children in Iran. I've got to warn you that some of the images you are about to see in her story, in this report, are disturbing.


JOMANA KARADSHEH, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): To the chants of "Death to the dictator," a protester tears down a poster of Iran's Supreme Leader.

TAVAKOLIAN (through translator): A young girl was murdered because of the compulsory hijab. We couldn't take it anymore. It was like a fire hidden

under the ashes.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): And like a wildfire, the protests spread to every corner of Iran. The rage was met with violent repression. In the small town

of -- the chaos captured in this shaky cellphone video also captured this security forces opening fire protesters.

It seems so hard to watch as the crowd rushed to help a woman screaming and pain after she was shot in the eye.

TAVAKOLIAN (through translator): That moment when I got shot was the bitterest moment of my life.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): That woman is 32 year old Elahe Tavakolian. She was at the protest with her 10 year old twins.

TAVAKOLIAN (through translator): My children were just shouting they killed our mom help. When this person started shooting, we saw him he was 30 or 40

meters away. I saw him aiming at us.

I turned sideways to shield my children and I was shot. I could see only blood. I covered my eye with my hand. I felt like if I take my hand off, it

might fall out of its socket.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Elahe is not alone. Activists say Iranian security forces we're using metal pellets and rubber bullets deliberately and

systematically shooting the eyes and blinding more than 500 protesters according to rights groups. Many have shared their photos online but the

regime's called them liars spreading propaganda.

TAVAKOLIAN (through translator): I'm in pain, it burns and I'm dying. I don't want to be blind.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Elahe lay in hospital in this agonizing pain for hours, doctors reluctant to help her as security forces were hunting down

the injured and those who aided them. After a surgery to treat her wound, Elahe stayed at home in a dark room for more than three weeks.

TAVAKOLIAN (through translator): I could hear them from my room chanting slogans. Something was pulling me outside, to speak, to shout, to demand my

rights. I felt like my fight wasn't over yet.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): But she also wanted to save her eye. With the help of an Italian journalist, Elahe made it to Italy, where she's undergone

more surgeries.

It was too late. Doctors discovered that the pellets still lodged behind her eye had moved and were forced to remove the eye. She was fitted with a

prosthetic but life has never been harder for Elahe.

She still lives with the physical pain, the trauma, alone in a foreign country, now relying on donations and friends to survive and hardest of

all, not knowing if she will ever see her children again.

TAVAKOLIAN (through translator): I never regretted this and I never will. If I returned to Iran, I will do it again. So many say this revolution is

over but it is not over. All across the country, women are now going out without hijab, because they are no longer afraid of them. This is our

method of civil resistance.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): The regime may have crushed the protests but the resilience of Elahe like so many others remains unshakable.

TAVAKOLIAN (through translator): No matter how many times they cut the flowers, they cannot stop the spring from coming. They shot my eye and they

shot others but the struggle is going on. No matter how many they kill, they cannot stop the spring from coming. They cannot keep freedom from

returning to us.

KARADSHEH (voice-over): Jomana Karadsheh, CNN, Milan, Italy.


ANDERSON: The Iranian government has not directly responded to widespread allegations that its security forces intentionally maimed protesters.

But last year, Amnesty International said it had obtained a leaked document, which appeared to instruct commanders of armed forces and of all

provinces to mercilessly confront demonstrators.


ANDERSON: You can read more about her story, including how she is rebuilding her life in Milan in our newsletter, "Meanwhile in the Middle

East." You can sign up for that at

And, as mentioned, there is by no means -- this is by no means an isolated incident. Iran Human Rights has been studying deaths and deaths and eye

injuries during the crackdown on 2022 protesters.

They found that nearly one in 10 of all the slain protesters were women; of the injured, more than a quarter of those who sustained eye injuries were

women. In Mahabad, a city west of Iran, some of the harshest crackdowns took place.

And in a sample from there, 15 percent of protesters killed were women, while they accounted for over half of eye injuries among protesters.

The director of the organization Mahmood Amiry-Moghaddam said, and I quote here, "The analysis shows brutal crimes committed during the protests by

the Islamic Republic were planned, coordinated and calculated. These crimes, were by no means isolated.

"The Islamic Republic leader Ali Khamenei and all the perpetrators of such crimes must be held accountable."

Dr. Moghaddam joins me now.

Thank you.

How did you go about gathering the information for the report that you have published?

MAHMOOD AMIRY-MOGHADDAM, DIRECTOR, IRAN HUMAN RIGHTS: Thank you for having me. It is much more challenging to gather information about -- from people

who have been injured than to those who have been killed because right after their injury, when they are at hospital, when they go home, they are

threatened by the authorities.

They have been harassed; they have been talking to people who have been harassed for a whole year. Their families are threatened. So it is very

challenging. But as you saw, there are so many brave men and women who are willing to share their stories.

They can document -- you know, we only include cases that we have fact checked, where there is enough documentation. So the actual numbers are

much higher there and we managed to document here that, even these cases that we document, they show, in our opinion, a new side of the brutality

Iranian regime used.

You mentioned Mahabad. In most of the videos we have seen, number of male protesters is much higher than the female protesters. So the fact that more

than half of those shot in the face or in the eyes are women means that they have been instructed to go and shoot women in the eye.

It reminds me of acid attacks that we have heard in Afghanistan and also sometime in Iran.

But the --


ANDERSON: Let me ask -- yes.

In addition to the numbers on women -- and those are shocking, as you rightly point out -- children were also targeted; 12 percent of those

killed were kids; 5 percent suffered from eye injuries. Eight children under the age of 18 years of age, four girls and four boys amongst those

blinded by security forces.

The youngest, a 5 year old girl, who was shot in the right eye while playing, as I understand it, at her grandfather's second floor balcony in

Ispahan. This is horrific. How do these families cope?

AMIRY-MOGHADDAM: Well, this is a very important question because the way Iranian authorities treated protesters, we should keep in mind that these

were young boys and girls, men and women, coming to the streets, asking for their fundamental rights.

The way the Iranian authorities treated them is probably worse than any occupying power, if someone was occupying your country would treat you. And

that is the feeling that people have now.

And that is why I don't think that, despite the fact that they have crushed the protests this year, but we will never go back to the time before Jina

Mahsa was killed in custody, because the gap between people and the regime has never been as big as it is. People are suffering.



ANDERSON: And as we mark the anniversary of Mahsa Amini's death, we talked about the groundswell of civil disobedience, you don't necessarily see the

protests on a daily basis on the streets.

But this undercurrent of civil disobedience, which those we speak to say will continue. I do just want to close with asking, because I think it is

really important for our viewers to understand.

Elahe, featured in our report, made her way to Italy, had the surgery completed there and is looking to find a life there. Many, of course, do

not have her opportunity and have to -- will stay in Iran.

What is their fate?

We ask about how families cope.

How concerned are you that these families become marked families?

AMIRY-MOGHADDAM: They are, actually. We have been talking to people who have not only lost their eye, they have lost their job. Yesterday, I talked

to a man who was the only person working in that family, taking care of the whole family. He was working at a restaurant. And he has not been able to

work since then.

So they are suffering in any ways imaginable. And this is -- you know, the Iranian -- this also shows another aspect of the Iranian regime's brutality

because it is not enough that they have been injured or their family members are killed.

They are suffering day-by-day. And of course, it is because the regime wants to give a lesson to people so that they never do it again. But I

don't think they will succeed.

ANDERSON: With that, we'll leave it there. We thank you very much indeed for joining us and sharing some perspective on the report that you have


Let's get you up to speed -- no, I tell you what. Let's take a break. Back after this.




ANDERSON (voice-over): All right.

U.S. President Joe Biden is taking an historic trip to Michigan, where he is set to join striking autoworkers on the picket line later today. Mr.

Biden has expressed his solidarity with the union but has so far stayed out of negotiations.

ANDERSON: The trip comes as he faces consistently low polling numbers on his handling of economic issues.

Biden's political rival, former president Donald Trump, is also set to visit the key swing state on Wednesday, where he will make his own appeal

to union members. Key to this is that this is a key swing state. CNN U.S. national correspondent Kristen Holmes joins us live from Detroit with the

very latest.


ANDERSON: I think it's very important for our viewers internationally to understand the significance of this trip for Joe Biden. Explain, if you


KRISTEN HOLMES, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Well, it's a significant trip for both Joe Biden and for former president Donald Trump, particularly when

you look at the fact that Joe Biden has had lower level polling and particularly when it comes to economic policies.

So when we look at what exactly this looks like, it looks like a general election. Right now it, looks as though we have two people running for

president in 2024. Now, of course, former president Trump has to actually win the nomination to then run for president.

But this is a clear pivot in that direction. And when we're talking to Trump's advisers, they are saying that this is because that Biden is

actually visiting because Trump had already announced that he was going to come here on Wednesday.

Now it is true that Trump did announce that first. We know that there had been a back and forth inside the White House. He'd been encouraged by some

-- Biden had been encouraged by some aides not to go out to the picket line, to let it work itself out, not to be a part of the mediation.

But as soon as Donald Trump announced that he would be heading here to Michigan, Biden decided that he would come as well. Now this is really an

opportunity for both of them to show their support for unions.

Biden himself has essentially built an entire life and political career supporting unions. It has been a cornerstone of his entire economic policy.

Trump, his administration was far more pro business, not pro labor. It was anti union, according to some of these union leaders. But yet, still, they

seem to be fighting for the same group of voters.

These are working class union members and they are critically important here in Michigan. The reason why Trump's people think that there is an

opening here is because of the fact that United Auto Workers, this critical auto industry union, has not yet endorsed.

In 2020, they endorsed Joe Biden. They have not yet endorsed in this election. They believe there are cracks here in the system. They also

believe that there is a difference between the leadership in these unions and the rank and file members.

We did hear from the president of the United Auto Workers, who slammed Donald Trump's visit and slammed his administration. But we do know that

these members of this union, at least some of them and their families, are going to be attending Trump's speech.

And when you look back at the last two elections, 2016, Trump was actually able to get a record number of these working class union member voters in a

way that Republicans had not seen in decades. Biden got some of that back in 2020.

The question, is what exactly will 2024 look like?

And when you look at the polling, the economic numbers for Joe Biden and how Donald Trump can sell himself, that is the question.

Who is going to be able to get these working class voters?

ANDERSON: Fascinating, thank you.


ANDERSON (voice-over): Let's get up to speed on some of the other stories that are on our radar before we leave you tonight.

And in Libya, 16 officials have been detained by authorities, looking into the failure of two dams in the Derna area. Thousands of people, of course,

died in the flooding there. Officials blame the breaches on mismanagement and some people who may have benefited unlawfully from the city's

reconstruction project.

More than two weeks after the floods, teams continue to search for victims.

A newly appointed Saudi ambassador to the Palestinians is in the West Bank for the first time. Naif bin Bandar Al-Sudairi presented his credentials to

officials on Tuesday and met with the Palestinian foreign minister. Delegation's arrival comes amid ongoing talks of normalization between

Saudi Arabia and Israel.

The Philippine Coast Guard has removed a Chinese floating barrier in what is a disputed area of the South China Sea. It says the move shows the world

the Filipino people will not back down. On Monday, China's ministry of foreign affairs had claimed China had indisputable jurisdiction over the



ANDERSON (voice-over): Taking a short break. After this.




ANDERSON: Just in time to leave you with. This. Developers behind ChatGPT have announced a new feature. You will soon be able to talk to it and it

will answer you. You can ask ChatGPT to tell your kids a bedtime story or settle a dinner table bet.

Meanwhile, Amazon says it is adding generative AI to its Alexa voice assistance. More on that as we get it.

That is it for CONNECT THE WORLD tonight. Stay with CNN.